An emotional support dog that senses your irritation and preys on your enemies, oh my! Hulu and Blumhouse’s Into the Dark is always holiday themed, and June’s installment in the anthology film series, Good Boy, ties in with Pet Appreciation Week. Reuben (Chico the Dog), is the good boy of the title. He’s seemingly benign but straight out of Hell.
He gets adopted by the always-delightful Judy Greer (13 Going On 30, Carrie, The Descendants and, well, everything). The perennial co-star takes the lead here as the desperate Maggie, a struggling journalist with a ticking biological clock. What more could you ask for in a direct-to-streaming flick?
Films in the Into the Dark series are always built on the old school TV-movie template. That is, they’re always competently crafted three-act dramas with an injection of horror. In more primitive times, we used to get terror like this once a week on ABC. There’s also a tinge of dark whimsy that adds the unique flair that makes Into The Dark entries like popcorn to me.
Greer’s Maggie works for a newspaper that’s shifting from print to digital and cutting pay and benefits at a time when she’s hoping to have a child. She’s eh, thiiirrrtyyyy-something. A friend suggests pet adoption as a means of coping, and the small and seemingly calm canine seems perfect at the shelter, earning the name Reuben when he gobbles Maggie’s sandwich.
But, as horror and series fans should expect, crappy Tinder dates and belligerent landladies should beware. Reuben’s likely do more than leave claw marks on the door. A Tinder date’s demise is mistaken for a hit-and-run, and reporting on it gives Maggie much-needed click-throughs, prompting her to decides freezing her eggs might be an option. That comes with injections that might make Maggie erratic, however. And perhaps compromise her judgment?
Flashes of extreme gore punctuate the escalating body count. Maggie grows more chipper and morally questionable in equal measures. She’d better watch out, of course. The charming Nate (McKinley Freeman) she meets at her extra gig as a barista is also a police detective. Where’s it all gonna lead?
Greer’s the real reason to watch here with María Conchita Alonso providing great backup as the impatient landlady and Steve Guttenberg turning up as Maggie’s editor at The Valley Yeller. The chills and suspense are on the milder side, but that’s often the tone for Into the Dark. Good Boy still makes for a fairly engaging diversion with just a bit of bite.
Wicked Rating: 6/10
Director: Tyler MacIntyre
Writers: Aaron & Will Eisenberg
Starring: Judy Greer, Steve Guttenberg, Maria Conchita Alonso, McKinley Freeman, Chico the Dog.
Release: June 12, 2020 (Hulu)
Runtime: 89 minutes